Do you hold grudges? Do you let resentment and hatred surge through your being? Do you think that forgiveness implies weakness and steals from you the “right” to be indignant, furious, and angry? Are you “proud” of your capacity to punish someone by banishing them from your midst or by spreading terrible words about them? Did it ever occur to you that the one most hurt by all of this is YOU? That you are “drinking the poison and expecting someone else to die?” Is it possible that lack of forgiveness is really a sign of fear?
It was Alexander Pope who wrote :
To err is human, to forgive divine.
Aren’t we all human? Don’t we all make mistakes? Haven’t we all stumbled and failed at some time in our lives? Isn’t there some dark shadow of guilt or shame lurking in the recesses of our lives? Is it too radical to consider these possibilities: From the depth of love that resounds in our hearts, we can — and must — forgive others. And coupled with that, we can — and must –forgive ourselves. What will be the outcome? Freedom! True freedom.
Can we be forgiving about our own times of lack of forgiveness? Are we big enough, strong enough, powerful and loving enough to choose forgiveness? That is the focus of this lesson.
LESSON THIRTY SEVEN
FORGIVING SETS US FREE
A Course in Miracles is the awe-inspiring book that has the capacity to transform anyone who follows the course. (Studying it has been one of the most pivotal experiences and best decisions of my life.) Forgiveness is a key theme.
Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.
Lesson 332 A Course in Miracles
Imagine what your life and world would be like if you shed the burdens you have carried by refusing to forgive. We, as humans, have carried so many foolish notions on this subject. Not long ago, someone was telling me about a woman who was generally kind and loving, but “if you crossed her once, she never forgave you.” This was told to me with a hint of admiration for the woman who never forgave, as if she had some stupendous power, like a Mafia Don, as if it was a sign of merit and strong character. One mistake with her and — BOOM — banished forever. I wonder if she would have ever considered these words from George Herbert:
He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
Forgiveness must go in all directions, passing through all relationships, into what we perceive as the past and the future, from one generation to another and globally as well. I think of the damage done to families that have held onto angers, like the Hatfields and the McCoys. This brings to mind political stances (like Democrats never forgiving the Republican politicians for something or other (you can reverse the party title for the same effect) or citizens of one country bearing the blame for “sins” committed long before they were born, such as longstanding anger with anyone from the Mideast or Europe or the United States or fill in the blank.
If we are to wipe the slate clean, it has to start somewhere. How about starting it yourself, with you?
Now take a calming few breaths, quiet your mind and try some or all of these ideas:
- Are you aware of a long-standing anger you have harbored for someone? Or maybe it is a surge of anger that started just yesterday? Can you actually see that person through a lens of forgiveness, trying to fathom who they are and what it may feel like in their shoes for a minute or so.
- Can you entertain the possibility that you are harming, not them, but yourself by holding onto these emotions? That actual physical symptoms, like high blood pressure or depression may be a result of lack of forgiveness.
- If it helps, you can always write a letter, which you will not send, to the person who has “wronged” you. Get it off your chest (notice what this phrase means with regard to your heart,) whatever has to be said. Then let it go!
- Can you dig into your past and find the place where you began to believe your were unworthy, unloveable and unforgivable? Can you look at it now, see that the past is over, and let light merge into that spot? You might visualize the “you” from the past and send love, saying “I love myself completely NOW,” to that person that your were then.
- Try seeing your long perceived “enemy” in the same light. Aren’t we all just doing the best we can to get through life? Aren’t we all capable of mistakes? What if you chose to spread Love instead? Do you think this is all silly and a waste of time? Have you ever tried it? How about setting the ego aside for a little while and making a new choice? You can do it, you know.
- Be patient and kind with yourself. This way of forgiveness may not become a habit overnight. It may take a little practice. Give it some time and see how you feel. Remember to keep loving yourself all the time.
Here is a quote attributed to Mark Twain, the legendary American author and humorist. I think it expresses a profundity beyond measure.
Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com